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Population Genetics, Linguistics, and Culture History in the Southwest Pacific$
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Jonathan S. Friedlaender

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195300307

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195300307.001.0001

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Pigmentation and Candidate Gene Variation in Northern Island Melanesia

Pigmentation and Candidate Gene Variation in Northern Island Melanesia

Chapter:
(p.96) 6 Pigmentation and Candidate Gene Variation in Northern Island Melanesia
Source:
Population Genetics, Linguistics, and Culture History in the Southwest Pacific
Author(s):

Heather L. Norton

George Koki

Jonathan S. Friedlaender

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195300307.003.0006

This chapter reviews the skin and hair pigmentation variation across Northern Island Melanesia. Advanced reflectance instruments now allow for detection of considerable regional variation in pigmentation both in the skin and hair. An island-by-island cline in skin pigmentation is revealed, with increasing M Index (heavily pigmented) values towards Bougainville Island. The skin pigmentation M values for Bougainville populations are as high as any surveyed population elsewhere, including West Africans. Papuan speakers in different islands have somewhat lighter hair pigmentation than their Austronesian-speaking neighbors. The distribution of six candidate genes for possible association/causation with pigmentation suggests that at least two (OCA2 and ASIP) could be associated with melanin phenotype variation in this region. While natural selection clearly must have an effect on pigmentation in this intensely irradiated region, it clearly does not dictate the pattern of melanin variation among these groups, which must be the result of ancient population associations.

Keywords:   pigmentation, melanin, M Index, Bougainville, Papuans, candidate genes, ASIP, OCA2, natural selection, hair pigmentation

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